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Adventure Series 1

Tree Shapes and Form

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Trees are the figure in the landscape. Scott discusses techniques to find the character of trees while developing a pleasing design.

18min 28sec

Trees comes in all shapes, proportions, and with numerous varieties.

Trees are the characters in a landscape. A painters interpretation of these characters often becomes as personal and identifiable as a signature.

Try to learn to identify the characteristics of the shapes that you see to represent, and not copy, the trees in front of you.

A good first step is to simplify tree forms (look for shapes before branches and leaves). Once you have a simplified design, add shape variety to create a pleasing design that is consistent with the character of the tree.

Understand that you can exaggerate a shape to make it that much more interesting.

Be careful of:

  • Repetitive shapes that are non-essential -- repetitive shapes will make your painting uninteresting.
  • Sky holes -- your eye will be attracted to small shapes with hard edges.

Find five different photos of interesting trees (find some of single trees and find some of tree groupings).

Try to see the tree shapes in their simplest form and practice drawing these shapes in your drawing journal.

Try to find the shapes that make the trees unique and focus on the exterior form and shapes.

Practice drawing multiple trees from both your photos and outdoor study using the concepts covered.

Optional assignment to further your thinking: Develop alternative designs from the same photo or area of trees outdoors. Imagine that you are closer, farther away, to the right / left of the position from which the photo was taken. How many alternative designs can you create from the same photo?

  • 5 Tree Photographs (single tree and tree groupings)
  • Drawing Journal
  • Pencil
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